JORGE HINOJOSA AND ICE-T
DIRECTOR AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER ICEBERG SLIM: PORTRAIT OF A PIMP
Robert Beck, who called himself Iceberg Slim, has been a massive influence on the hip-hop world. His 1969 autobiography, Pimp: The Story Of My Life, codified an emerging underworld lifestyle, and his subsequent works explored and confronted African-American culture in a way few others did at the time.
Two decades after Slim’s death, his life and legacy are explored in a new documentary, Iceberg Slim: Portrait Of A Pimp, making its world premiere at TIFF. It’s a labour of love for director Jorge Hinojosa and his executive producer, Ice-T, who joined our conference call from the New York set of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Jorge, you’ve been Ice-T’s manager for nearly three decades. How did you two end up making a documentary about Iceberg Slim? JORGE HINOJOSA When I first met Ice, I was still a teenager. I read those books and they just totally blew my mind. [ They] exposed me to a world that I was totally unaware of. It was shocking, but at the same time it was really captivating. It puts you in this trance.
ICE-T At some point, Jorge just came up with, “I wanna do a story of the life of Iceberg Slim,” because a lot of people don’t know about it. So he started to dig and dig and dig, and he came up with this tremendous movie. I’m interviewed in it, but it’s pretty much Jorge’s directorial debut. I’m very proud of it. Jorge, what surprised you most while researching Slim? JH He really underplayed his criminal life. He talks about being arrested and stuff like that, but when I looked at his record, he was arrested 11 times before the age of 21. That was pretty shocking. And coming to grips with the time period he grew up in... I mean, he grew up in Chicago, the most corrupt city in America, during the worst race riots in American history. He really was kinda born in the fire, as it were. ICE-T When I started rapping, I named myself after Iceberg Slim. There’s a tremendous amount of similarities in our lives. He didn’t start to write books and I didn’t start to make records until we had gotten out of crime. He has this epiphany that lets him know that what he was doing was pretty much wrong, and he goes out and starts to speak to kids and try to explain to people that although these books might seem like they’re promoting the criminal lifestyle, really they’re a warning against it. Just like my music. ICE-T Absolutely. As repulsive as some of the things you hear in the movie are, you want to hear more.
Robert Beck (aka Iceberg Slim) had a huge influence on hip-hop culture.
Iceberg Slim: Portrait Of A Pimp, directed by Jorge Hinojosa. September 8, 6 pm, Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7; September 9, 9 am, Bloor; September 16, 4 pm, Scotiabank 1.